Reign of Yuan Dynasty

Although founded by the Mongolian ethnic minority, the general ruling mode of the Yuan Dynasty still followed the political pattern of the previous regimes set up by Han people. Ruling for more than 30 years, Kublai Khan, or rather Emperor Shizu of Yuan was an advocator of Han's ruling system. His reign was regarded as the most prosperous period of the Yuan Dynasty. However, due to the incompetence of later emperors, the Yuan court became corrupt which led to the end of the regime.

Reign of Kublai Khan

As the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan initially adopted the political system of Han people. First, he set up the department 'Zhongshu Sheng' to administrate the national affairs; the department 'Shumi Yuan' was established to govern the national military affairs; the ministry 'Yushi Tai' functioned as the supervision department. Besides, a new administrative unit called 'Xingsheng' (equal to current provinces of China). This was under the direct charge of the central court created by Kublai Khan. Meanwhile, a new efficient information transferring system called the 'Yizhan' System was firstly set up in his reign to strengthen the imperial ruling. In this way, a centralized political system was founded, guaranteeing the stability of the whole nation.

In economy, Kublai Khan focused much attention on the development of agriculture and water conservancy construction. In the process of Mongolian's conquest, the agriculture of the northern areas of China was seriously damaged. In the early period of Kublai Khan's reign, the agricultural production gradually recovered and the cultivation areas were greatly increased. Certain achievements were also made in water conservancy and special departments of water treatment were set up. The Yellow River was treated for three times while two new canals were constructed in its capital Dadu (currently Beijing) and Shandong Province for irrigation.

What is more, in Kublai Khan's reign, the control and exploitation towards the border areas were greatly promoted, which enhanced the cultural and economical ties between people in ethnic minorities in border areas and inland regions. At that time, there were a total of eleven 'Xingsheng's making up the whole nation, including the newly unified Yunnan, Tibet, Taiwan and Penghu areas. Still in the frontier areas such as the northwest Xinjiang and the northeast Heilongjiang regions were developed well under the powerful governing of the central court. The unified nation promoted people's inter-regional movement thus the communication between different ethnic minorities and regions were increasingly enhanced. All this consolidated the development of the Yuan Dynasty as a unified multi-ethnic country.

Reign of Later Emperors

None of the late emperors of Yuan were as competent and as ambitious as Kublai Khan, hence the Yuan Dynasty began to decline. After Kublai Khan died, Emperor Chengzong ascended the throne. Because he was a conservative and weak-minded emperor, the society of the Yuan Dynasty failed to progress in his reign. Emperor Chengzong was succeeded by Emperor Wuzhong who was more incompetent in dealing with the state affairs. Unfortunately, years of famine broke out in Wuzong's reign which sped up the decline of the Yuan Dynasty. Until the reign of Emperor Renzong, a series of renovation policies were carried out including laying off some redundant officials and reemploying the once-interrupted imperial examination. However, good things did not last. Some powerful ministers dominated the court, which interrupted the renovation. There were also several emperors after Emperor Renzong trying to improve the court order, but all were in vain. Starting from Emperor Taiding, the power struggle within the ruling class became more and more intense, let alone the severe ethnic contradiction caused by the 'Four Class System'. Since then, the Yuan Dynasty could not stop its step to decline.

- Last updated on Aug. 09, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Reign of Yuan
Asked by Ilana Leeds from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 14, 2019 17:09Reply
What are some of the main features of the Yuan Dynasty? E.g. the government, culture & society.
Answers (1)
Answered by Lily from NEW ZEALAND | Mar. 14, 2019 20:07

1. The yuan dynasty was ruled by a nationality of nomadic owners, whose strongest troops were cavalry.
2. All the people in the Yuan Dynasty were divided into four classes.
3.They had invaded to a part of Europe.
4. It is one of the few dynasties that was ruled by a ethnic group.
Asked by Darlene from USA | Oct. 11, 2016 12:33Reply
Are there any famous people other than emperor's from the Yuan Dynasty?
Answers (1)
Answered by Amanda from FRANCE | Oct. 11, 2016 20:45

I found names of some poets during this period, such as Ma Zhiyuan, Wang Mian, Wang Shipu, Wang Xu, Zhao Zi'ang... All of them had left popular lines that have passed down for generations.
Asked by Susan from SINGAPORE | Nov. 24, 2015 01:10Reply
Did Kublai Khan build his palace or the building was converted from aristocrat's home?
Answers (1)
Answered by Sally from HONG KONG | Nov. 25, 2015 02:28

Susan, it wasn't converted from aristocrat's home. Actually it was built on the base of a detached palace of Jin Dynasty.
Asked by guest from U.S.A | Apr. 02, 2014 20:07Reply
which dynasty extended north to Russia,west to the black sea,and south to Vietnam
Answers (1)
Answered by Jim from CANADA | Apr. 04, 2014 01:29

the Yuan Dynasty, under the reign of Genghis Khan.
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